The Week of August 17, 2020 – FYI: Science Policy News

Cable Break Damages Arecibo ObservatoryThe iconic Arecibo Observatory wasseverely damagedon Aug. 10 when one of the cables supporting the platform suspended above the radio telescopes aluminum reflector dish broke. The cable tore a30 metergash in the305 meterdiameter dish, which focuses radio waves on receiving equipment attached to the platform, and damaged a structure called the Gregorian dome that houses some of the equipment. Areciboreportsthat telescope operations have been suspended pending repairs and that the cause of the break is unclear, as the cable was designed to last at least another 15 years. It is not yet known how long the repairs might take, what the cost will be, or who will foot the bill. Currently, the National Science Foundation isdivestingits funding support for operations of the half-century-old facility and the University of Central Florida, which now manages it, is working to replenish that share of the budget through apatchworkof partnerships. Notably, the lead appropriator for NSF in the House, Rep. Jos Serrano (D-NY), has long been among the observatorys strongest champions in Congress, though he is retiring after this year. Arecibo is still conducting repairs to damage inflicted by Hurricane Maria in 2017 usingfundingprovided by Congress as part of an emergency relief package.

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The Week of August 17, 2020 - FYI: Science Policy News

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